Members of Occupy Cal to form new political party

Members of the Occupy Cal movement are forming a new political party to run in the upcoming spring 2012 ASUC general election.

The party — tentatively named the “Political Action Party” — was first announced at an Occupy Cal general assembly meeting last Monday and was created with the belief that current student government leaders are siding with the administration instead of the students, UC Berkeley junior and current party leader James Chang said in an email.
Though the party is not officially endorsed by Occupy Cal, the two entities have overlapping members and ideas, according to Chang.

“Our party is looking for candidates that are involved in the movement,” Chang said. “But not all the members need to be from Occupy Cal.”
While the party has not formally signed up with the ASUC Elections Council, Chang said the party looks forward to legitimizing its campaign.

The deadline for submitting a party registration form is Feb. 22, according to ASUC Attorney General Deepti Rajendran. A party also needs at least two members to register, including a party signatory to act on its behalf.

The party has not scheduled any formal meetings to finalize its name, platform or candidates. However, Chang said some students have come forward expressing interest in the new party.

It is unknown if the party will run an executive slate, ASUC Senate candidates or both, but Chang said in the email that the party is currently looking for candidates to “win back the ASUC for the students.” The party’s platform opposes cuts, fee hikes, resegregation and privatization, he added.

But the party faces some significant challenges to getting elected.

In the last 15 elections, third-party or independent candidates have not won any of the four traditionally partisan executive offices — president, executive vice president, external affairs vice president and academic affairs vice president.

Rather, the race has been dominated by candidates slated with CalSERVE and Student Action, the two largest student political parties based on senate and executive seats.

The last third-party candidate to be elected to one of these executive offices was a candidate from the Women’s Party who served as the external affairs vice president during the 1996-1997 academic year.

However, candidates from SQUELCH!, Cooperative Movement, other third parties and independents have successfully won campaigns for senate seats each year. In the past five years, third parties and independents have held three to five of the 20 senate seats.

SQUELCH! Senator Noah Ickowitz said he believes the Political Action Party may take some voters from other parties, but not to the extent that it would heavily influence the results.

“The party may have trouble since a lot of the energy behind the movement has largely dissolved,” Ickowitz said in an email.

Chloe Hunt is the lead student government reporter.